Jenny Saville

I’ve followed Jenny Saville’s work since I was introduced to her in college, and again have found her work to be an inspiration in this work. But by knowing her work so well, I haven’t really posted anything about research because I already know! The sad truth is this course requires an awful lot of research, so I’m going to write what I know.

Saville has worked in both photography and paintings, and by being on an art course I was mostly drawn to her paintings. I find the techniques she uses in her artwork to be very inspiring by the use of strong colors in her work. It gives the image more of an impact; using deep blues and reds to enhance the imperfections in her subjects and create a harsher view, throwing these aspects into your view in a very raw way. The way she works goes hand in hand with her subject matter; as if the painting itself would give the same shocking impact even if it wasn’t a shocking subject.

She photographs and paints larger women, or her own body distorted by casts of these women. Her work has a very somber atmosphere, with the subject appearing to be very subdued and a bit sad, really. The blank expressions of the subject I think bring across their pain and allow you to consider them as a person as apposed to a form. I posted a study I did of one of her works from a surgery that was for an earlier project. She was allowed to sit in on a surgery of a ladies face lift and photograph the progress. Seeing the difference in the photographs she took of this and the paintings she made highlight her strength in paintings. It is interesting that she sat in on a face lift surgery, as her work is designed around the diseased state and the imperfect body form. The art based around the face lift surgery, I think helps to highlight the lengths women will go to in order to conform to the socially accepted physical form. The extremes of beauty. Her work rebels against this, and the image of women portrayed in the media.

Her work is made to be larger than life size. I have seen her art in a gallery exhibition, and the sheer size of them reiterates the subject matter. It forces it into your vision. Her photography work also follows on in this style. Large, overbearing, forceful. In class we were shown a film focusing on her collaboration work with Glen Luchford, a fashion photographer. In this series she used a plate of glass and her own body as subject, distorting and pulling her form against the glass and photographing it. As she lay on the glass she had a mirror underneath so she could focus on what the distortions were doing, and discuss first hand the shots with Luchford. The result is a series of images that bridge a gap between grotesque and beauty; looking at the body as a form and allowing you to admire the different shapes and tones that have been achieved. There is nothing beautiful about the distortion itself, however in my mind the overall effect created, and the patterns in the skin is beautiful.

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